I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
Not at all. Asking for help is a sign of insight and strength. Everyone needs help now and then. You already have strengths that you’ve used to manage difficult times before, and for whatever reason, they just might not be working right now. Perhaps what you’re going through right now is an entirely new experience that feels overwhelming- this can make it difficult to access the strengths and coping skills you likely already have. In your work together, your therapist will help you identify what those strengths and skills are, how to build off of them, and how to use them in your current situation to achieve your highest level of potential.
What’s the difference between talking to you and talking to my best friend, spouse, or family?
The difference is between talking to someone who can listen, and someone who has the training and experience to do that same thing professionally. A mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Your therapist can be more objective than your best friend, spouse or family is able to be. Furthermore, therapy is guaranteed to be completely confidential; talking to a professional can give you the peace of mind that you need in order to open up and be honest with yourself about making necessary changes.
Can’t I just take medication?
Medication may be an option for you, and one that you and your therapist can explore together, but medication alone cannot solve all issues. Medication works by treating symptoms; your work with your therapist is designed to explore the root cause of the issue, dig deep into your behavior and teach strategies that can help you accomplish your personal and/or relational goals.
Medication can be an effective tool to help manage symptoms and improve overall wellbeing, however, when medication is used, it is typically just one of the many tools that are needed and it is often most effective when used in conjunction with therapy.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
Because each person comes to therapy for a different reason and with different goals in mind, the process and experience will be different for everyone. Your therapist will tailor the approach used in each session to your specific needs.
How long will it take?
Unfortunately, this is not possible to say in a general FAQs page. Everyone’s circumstances are unique to them and the length of time therapy may take to allow you to accomplish your goals depends on your desire for personal development, your commitment, and the factors that are driving you to seek therapy in the first place.
I want to get the most out of therapy. What can I do to help?
It is wonderful that you are dedicated to getting the most out of your sessions. Your active participation and commitment is crucial to your success. After all, you only see your therapist for a short period of time each week. In addition to making the commitment to attend therapy, it’s the work you do outside of sessions that will really help you see your personal growth and development.
My partner and I are having problems. Should we be in individual counseling or come together?
Couple’s counseling can transform your relationship from “just surviving” to thriving. If you and your partner are both ready and willing to commit to a process of exploration, communication and growth, coming to counseling together is a great place to start. It may be beneficial for each partner to have their own therapist to see individually throughout this process as well. Every couple is different and it is important to talk to your therapist openly about what will work best for you. If you decide to see a therapist both as a couple and as individuals, it is recommended that the therapist providing the couple’s work is not the same therapist working with either individual partner, so as to prevent potential trust issues.
What should I expect?
You should expect to learn more about yourself, your needs, and how to care for those needs.
You should expect to be honest with yourself and your therapist.
You should expect to challenge yourself, to be open to new ideas, and to try new strategies for coping with the stress in your life.
You should expect to be challenged in a safe, supportive environment.
But most importantly, you can expect to be listened to with compassion and empathy, and the highest level of respect for your privacy, your story, and your needs.